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Boojum's new owners tell of plans to expand

By Gavin McLoughlin

Published 06/08/2015

Ready to grow: Boojum
Ready to grow: Boojum

The new private equity owners of Belfast-based burrito chain Boojum have revealed more of their plans for the business.

Renatus Capital Partners in Dublin backed former Ulster Rugby player Andrew and his brother David Maxwell in the acquisition of the chain of five Mexican takeaways.

There are two in Belfast, two in Dublin and one in Galway.

Boojum founder John Blisard is from Philadelphia and opened the first Boojum in 2007.

Mark Flood, the co-founder of Renatus Capital Partners and a former managing director of the Racing Post, said they planned to open more outlets. "The business is making good cash. It's a growing trend in the right market.

"The existing staff are excellent and the management team who are buying in with us are very good as well. So they're good guys who are going to lead up the expansion and there's good potential to grow it.

"We'll go step by step. We'll open a few more and see how they go, and we'll revise things then. We've got a bank who's willing to back us and expand. We have to grow sensibly and we'd hope to have two more units up in the next six months." Mr Flood and business partner Brendan Traynor have said they don't see themselves as specialists in one sector.

Their goal is to find a happy medium by targeting companies that are too small to attract bigger private equity firms but big enough to absorb a sizeable investment.

And in a possible indication of the value of the Boojum deal, he added that "we're going for that little gap in the middle where the big funds don't play ­­ but they're still chunky enough to take a €1m-plus investment".

"The three types of deals we'll be doing are management buying out from existing owners, management buying in, or a business buying another business. They're the three catalysts for a transaction."

Mr Flood and Mr Traynor previously worked for accountancy firm BDO. Mr Traynor's speciality is executing deals, and Mr Flood's experience in commercial and operations will appeal to potential partners.

Mr Flood said: "It helps when you're with guys that you've got commercial experience and operations experience.

"This particular one ­- Boojum - we're putting in new systems and structures and are going to try and put a bit of science behind the new store roll-outs, try and professionalise everything."

Boojum is the first investment, but Renatus has made offers to get involved in three other businesses: one in manufacturing, one in engineering, and one in retail.

Mr Flood said: "We can't say too much about the offers, but we've definitely got a good response.

"Warren Buffett famously said that debt is like a dagger on your steering wheel. It keeps you honest when you're driving but if you hit a bump in the road it will kill you. So it's sensible to have 40% to 50% equity in the business because it can withstand the bump."

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